I was too busy reading to spare more than a cursory glance for the twenty-something woman who got on the L at Loyola and rested her crutches against the bench seats. The same went for the little girl and the gray-haired woman who sat down across the car from me.
A few stops later, at Bryn Mawr, I heard the woman with the little girl say that this was their stop. The doors opened.
"I like those," the little girl said.
"Why, thank you," said the twenty-something woman.
The little girl had stopped to point at the crutches, which were festooned with neat rows of bright flower stickers, plastic gems and such. I watched her step off the train with the older woman. Her rubber boots and raincoat contained so many colors that only Crayola's priciest box would allow you to draw her, and many of the hues had twin brothers and sisters in the stickers and jewels that the twenty-something woman had chosen.
It occurred to me that I hadn't even noticed the crutch décor, but it was eye-level for the girl. It spoke to her.
"Was she complimenting your crutches?" I asked.
"Yeah," the twenty-something woman said. "My fashion sense seems to capture the eight-year-old set." She looked down at her leg, with its Velcro-fastened brace, and at the crutches. "I figured as long as I'm hurt, I might as well Bedazzle these things and make them mine."
There's wisdom to be found on the red line. A lot of empty muttering, empty Caramel Macchiato cups, and torn-open Funyun bags, too, of course—but wisdom just the same.
You need to pay attention.
Image credit: Michael Kappel via Flickr under the Creative Commons License (http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-i-k-e/7725397420/)